SBD/April 1, 2011/MLB Season Preview

Offseason Acquisitions Helping Boost Red Sox’, Brewers’ Bottom Lines

Red Sox' signing of Gonzalez paying dividends across multiple metrics
The Red Sox’ active offseason, highlighted by the additions of LF Carl Crawford and 1B Adrian Gonzalez, has renewed excitement in Fenway Park and has led to an across-the-board growth in the team’s major business metrics. Merchandise sales are up 10% at the team's Yawkey Way Store over last year, and Red Sox Exec VP & COO Sam Kennedy said the addition of Crawford and Gonzalez has been a “huge factor in that uplift.” Kennedy noted a T-shirt featuring Crawford’s name and number has been the team’s "hottest seller" so far, but other areas are also seeing growth. "The old adage of the rising tide lifting all ships applies because our business is up across the board," he said. "Not just Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford name and number T-shirts, but all categories are up." The excitement has spilled over to sponsorship sales. Kennedy noted the team is up about 7% in sponsor revenue, and he expects to have slightly more than 100 companies on board this season. New sponsors include Hyundai, Nikon and ADT. "With the re-commitment to continuing to spend dollars, some new sponsors and existing sponsors have renewed to support the team," explained Kennedy. The sight of empty seats during some late-season games at Fenway Park and a 38% drop in TV ratings on NESN suggested the team was in need of a boost this offseason. The big-ticket offseason acquisitions and the increased expectations for this year’s team mean the club will likely continue its MLB record 631–game sellout streak at Fenway Park into the foreseeable future. The Red Sox have sold 2.65 million tickets for the upcoming season, on par with totals at this point last year. But there has been a big bump in premium seating sales, up 35% over last season. "This is my 10th season in Boston," said Kennedy. "I think it's safe to say for a variety of factors this is one of the more highly anticipated baseball seasons that we've experienced."

SOMETHING GOOD BREWIN’: The Red Sox were not the only team to make a big splash this offseason acquiring players. The Phillies made headlines by surprisingly signing P Cliff Lee, and the Brewers made an equally unexpected move in trading for P Zack Greinke. Milwaukee's addition of Greinke has helped them post growth across several business metrics, including setting a new record regarding merchandise sales heading into the season. Greinke leads the team in merchandise sales, and Brewers COO Rick Schlesinger said, "He's been number one in jersey sales and T-shirt sales since we traded for him, and that number is not diminishing." The team also has set a record for sponsorship revenue, which Schlesinger expects to be up 10% over last year. Though the club begins the season with fewer sponsors than last season, first-year and returning sponsors are spending more. With the addition of Greinke, the team also is seeing gains in ticket sales. The Brewers in both '08 and '09 drew more than 3 million fans, and they hope to do so again in '11 after a drop last season. Schlesinger noted the club is up 7% in ticket sales and 5-8% in the season-, individual- and group-ticket categories. He noted after the December trade for Greinke, the team immediately revised its attendance forecast. "I told our sales staff that whatever might have been our budget is no longer our budget and we should all be focusing on 3 million," said Schlesinger. He feels the Greinke acquisition is sending a powerful message about the franchise. "We may not be the biggest market in baseball, but we're planning on playing with the big boys in the fall," Schlesinger said. "Greinke I think is a symbol of the commitment of the team and ownership to doing what it takes to win."
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